The American Institute for Packaging and the Environment agrees that now is the right time for the Connecticut General Assembly to consider extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation.
AMERIPEN supports balanced packaging producer responsibility programs when they are designed to expand and modernize packaging recovery and the recycling infrastructure while continuing to protect the environment. This is consistent with discussions within the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Material Management (CCSMM), in which AMERIPEN has been deeply involved.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s recently released “Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy,” and pending legislation to implement this vision, are also positive steps forward to developing a self-sufficient materials recovery and recycling market and implement an effective circular economy for packaging to help meet Connecticut’s ambitious environmental goals.
The need for packaging – in all forms – is not going away. It is critical to help ensure the quality of goods as they are manufactured, shipped, stored and consumed, thereby protecting the health and safety of people who use and handle those products.
Packaging also has value at the end of its life. The industry wants – needs – these materials recovered and recycled to become new products such as packaging and other consumer and commercial goods. None of it belongs in landfills, roadsides or waterways. Thoughtful packaging producer responsibility programs must not fund ineffective or outdated packaging recovery and recycling schemes or limit options for consumers, businesses, and critical industries that rely on the absolute necessity of the covered packaging.
And, thoughtful packaging recovery and recycling policy must not become mired by focusing on a single type of material. Packaging producer responsibility in Connecticut is expected to focus on all of the materials of today – and those of tomorrow.
Research forecasts the growth of flexible films, compostable packaging and advances in other packaging substrates and hybrid materials that will protect and secure products while reducing environmental impact. There is a shortage of these materials today and well-crafted packaging producer responsibility will help secure these valuable resources into the future
Some critical voices call for the complete elimination of certain packaging materials. There is a place and need for the packaging materials of today and the adoption of new packaging materials and formats that are now at the genesis of their design, developed market access, and end-users.
In placing new requirements on producers responsible for those new material formulations, and the technology to develop and process them, Connecticut must ensure that requirements do not outpace technological and recycling marketplace development.
As important, any packaging producer responsibility program in Connecticut needs to take into account certain consumer products that must adhere to specific requirements for food and medication contact, among others. Common sense – and sticking to the regulations – require consideration of the myriad state and federal rules that apply to packaging and the contents it holds.
Add to that: packaged products that are sold through interstate commerce are subject to laws that may differ from state to state (e.g. the “chasing arrows” symbol). Thoughtful, real-world policy designed in collaboration with all stakeholders will help keep Connecticut’s circular economy strong and keep products flowing freely inside, outside and through Connecticut.
The path forward is to design packaging producer responsibility programs that will achieve effective and meaningful outcomes. AMERIPEN is committed to continuing to work with Connecticut policymakers and other stakeholders to expand and modernize the state’s recovery and recycling infrastructure while, at the same time, continuing to protect the environment.
Dan Felton is the Executive Director of AMERIPEN – the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment.